Saturday, July 12, 2008

Message from a River

Hello all it’s me here Mrs Winter. Well first thing this life is good, really really good.

Everyday it seems that so much happens and at the same time that nothing is actually happening. I think that’s because here life just seems to flow.
Often it feels that we are in some kind of story; characters acting out a play. As each day breaks I am really not sure what will happen. And so much has happened, we have met most of our basic needs; now places to sleep, eat, poop, grow food. We have learned some Portuguese. The children are building relationships in their local school and everyday their Portuguese far excels that of us adults. But, hopefully they will write a blog soon so I won’t spoil their story. We have made friends with each other and are becoming a family. In other words we are making a life in the little village of Amieira and yet I still open my eyes look out the window and am shocked that I actually live here.

When my darling andy (now renamed Memphis, more on that later) first started Source, his business, we were: very young; living in a house like a building site; had a new baby and had no money. It was daunting and risky. One day he came down from his work room in the house full of worry and trepidation and I asked him what was the best thing about being his own boss. He said to me that it was having an idea in the morning and then being able to make it happen by the afternoon. That really stuck with me and I thought “that is how I want you to feel always and that is what I want for myself no matter the trails of the life before us the risk is always worth the joy of actively taking part in the creation of your own destiny”. And here we are starting over and doing it all again. And we worked hard then and are working hard now but rather than being just Andy and I, we are in community. This time we are not alone in the effort. We are not alone in the joys and are still together in the sorrows, even if the working out of that is different for all of us.

Since I have been here everything just seems so simple. To resist the flow of what is happening creates effort. To move into and embrace what is happening releases energy. To flow with life is better than resistance. To move to the pace of a day, a moment is simply more pleasant than to be constantly fighting with it. I seem to need less, want less, but have more. More time, more energy, more life, more joy even in a moment of suffering. The love that I feel for the people I share my time with is greater than the sum of the actions they take. What they do may cause pain but love flows unbidden and unhindered.

There is so much abundance of nature here. Her spoils are shared openly so that we can create our dreams. Every project for me now begins with the question how can I get this done by using the things that are around me. For instance, while walking I collect materials in hunter gatherer mode and reassemble them into something which fulfils some purpose that I desire, but equally offers beauty in some form or another. It is impossible to move against so strong a flow of abundance which surrounds us. The only way that flow can be stopped is by removing oneself from its presence, and that is a hard thing to do.

But it has not all been heavy work and heavy revelations, we have been having a lot of fun too, assing around, laughing, being silly and just generally playing. Over the course of the last couple of weeks we have renamed each other and worked out our basic elemental tendencies according to Chinese medicine, adults only so far kids coming soon. What started off as a joke has now become something more important, not sure how yet but I think these names embody some understanding that we have made of each other.

"Tom and Jerry" were easy to spot so their names came first. "Tom" is now called Sunshine Dundee. Sunshine because he can be quite strong minded and perhaps a little abrupt but his true nature is bright and shiny, it warms you when you least expect it, a presence you can glow in. Dundee, from Crocodile, because he is a little bit of an action hero and we daily see him doing some crazy stunts to get this place into shape.

"Jerry" is now called Moonbeam Pocahontas, Moonbeam because her energy is more tidal, flowing and ebbing. It is softer, more fragile. "Jerry" can make you feel dreamy and wistful with her soft brown eyes and beautiful smile and Pocohontas because of her passion for animals and she really does have a Native American thing going on.

Michelle’s name has yet to be finalised but for me she is Cocoa Indigo. Cocoa is good for you in its raw state, it’s good in small doses but can send you nuts if you consume too much at once. Cocoa is decadent, luxurious, naughty. Indigo is the colour of the deep abyss, the unfathomable but irresistible. It has been a difficult time for Michelle and us recently and we have opted for a little more space in our togetherness and like all things that happen here we will just have to wait, see and be part of that story as it unfolds.

My Andy is now called Memphis, after that lovely Big Daddy Penguin in Happy Feet, who swept his bird off her feet with a song, lost his bounce for a while and is now dancing through this life. Memphis is in his element here, joyfully doing whatever needs to be done. Lifting us when we get a bit heavy and weighed down with effort. He is the exhorter, encourager and without his enthusiasm I would surely falter if not fail.

Before I tell you my new name I will have to tell you a little more. We also worked out each others elemental qualities according to Chinese medicine.

Sunshine Dundee ("Tom") is earth, solid, supporting, nourishing, centered, stable, full of mental clarity and understanding.

Moonbeam ("Jerry") is our wood element. Wood referring to all vegetation that covers the earth. As a wood element she is clear on her boundaries even though they may be vast embracing the boundaries of all that surrounds her. She is a powerful character that can spread her energy until the earth is covered. She likes things to be correctly done first time around. She will give her time generously and effortlessly for the development and personal growth of others and is constantly seeking growth in herself.

Memphis (Andy) is our fire element he exudes love and warmth, is fuelled by closeness and intimacy with whoever he is with and whatever he puts his hand too. Full of joy and laughter he brings lightness to us by clowning around even unintentionally (next time you see him ask him how many times he has hit his head). His warmth grows with clarity and diminishes with confusion.

Cocoa (Michelle) is our metal element. Metal in this sense means the core of the earth, ore and mineral. For Cocoa recognition, acceptance and approval are important. Feeling complete and part of the environment gives energy for inspiration and meaning. Purity and refined solid action, is her gift to us.

Lastly I am the element of water. Personally driven and excited when taking risks, the water element is also all about trust and safety, giving safety to those who feel fear and feeling safe themselves, broken trust is detrimental to the water element. The water element can be reassuring and trustworthy but can also be highly intimidating.

I love water and can never get enough of it, and yet I am terrified of the Ocean. In part this may be as a legacy of the slave trade, many many West Indians are terrified of large bodies of water. I began to see this in myself on the Lifeline walks Andy the kids and I did in Africa and more so, when I learnt to swim this year and yet water is the element I hope to infuse this hot and thirsty land with. To this end I have chosen the name River. I want to be a River here, flowing without resistance, capable of softening hard edges of ore and rock and yet being able to respect those boundaries; nourishing and softening to the earth without washing away its nutrients and making it over soggy and lacking in fire; enabling the growing of all green things that sprout forth, giving their roots space to breath and not drowning out their potential with my own qualities. I want to be vaporised and fly through the cosmos of the universe when touched by fire. I wish to flow like a River to adapt and alter and transform according to the playing out of this story.

So now at the age of 35, today is indeed my birthday and I have a new name: River. I want to be a river. Skipping, rushing, flowing, gurgling, carrying, nourishing, cleaning, heading gaily towards the Ocean. My place of deepest fear and greatest potential. The place where rivers are transformed. Oh what glorious hippies we are turning out to be!

P.s. After finishing this blog, a well dressed Memphis came to me and asked me to go for a walk from Bacelo, "Tom and Jerry"'s home (where we are currently staying) to our place Moses. Always up for a walk I happily agreed. I went to Moonbeam and Sunshine and asked, "Do you fancy going for a walk hon". But she looked at me kinda kinda strange and said "Sunshine´s taking me for a drink". Odd, I thought Sunshine and Moonbeam don´t really drink and wouldn´t usually go out to have one. Never mind, I thought "nowt as queer as folk".

I also thought Memphis was a little strange, normally when we go for walks he surges on a head while I saunter behind. He points things out everywhere but this time he walked with me, held my hand and seemed very quiet, contemplative. I thought, "wow! it really must be my birthday".

As we approached Moses my breath paused for a moment as it always does, but then Memphis started surging on. "Okay" I thought, "he has used up his full quota of girly actions for the day" and sped up after him. As we stood at the house I could hear people moving inside. "No probs, we have visitors, cool". Then the visitors came out and said, "Surprise!". "Who could they possibly be surprising?", I thought, then it dawned, "it´s my birthday!" It was such a beautiful party held in that apparently derelict house. I was utterly overwhelmed by their presence, generosity (so many really cool presents) and friendship. You see with all this work we have hardly been to the bar or seen them in their homes, yet here they were on my birthday, even our beautiful friend Barbara, now renamed Shanti Barbie, and some of her friends. I am now overflowing. Thanks guys. You made an old girl feel very loved.

Videos From Memphis

There has been loads of stuff going on round here. In brief, held a surprise birthday party this week for Von at Moses with all our mates from town, candles, musicians, loads of food, drink, the works; a first taste of future parties methinks. Von's pumpkin patch is finished and looks gorgeous; already eaten the first fruits of the courgettes, onions and peppers too. Kids house down at Moses is now gutted and we start rendering walls next week. The Tac room next to Hari's house now has new walls, floor and roof and just needs a lick of limewash on Monday before Josh and Ellie move in. Paula Bedford and Zuzka Beckett came to see us for a fantastic couple of days. Paula's man Alfie will follow shortly to help us build houses and look at properties to buy. John and Caroline come August 10th with Maya and Violet to do the same. My mum and dad are booked for 1st fortnight of September. Busy months ahead. And its getting real hot. Yeah baby! Anyway, below are just 2 skits to keep you amused, both involving water (on theme for River's latest post) shot down at Moses last week. One of the kids cooling off in the granite pools (sorry for the angle again. it does correct half way through though). And the other of a strange creature I found in our water mine, which we suspect is a new anthropological discovery. Comments welcome. Enjoy....

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